Policy & Politics
House Passes CAFTA; Bush Expected to Sign Pact; HIV/AIDS Advocates Say Agreement Could Threaten Treatment Access
July 28, 2005
The House on Wednesday approved 217-215 the Central American Free Trade Agreement, a deal aiming to reduce trade barriers between the U.S. and six Central American nations that supporters have said will stimulate economic and democratic growth in the region, USA Today reports (Lynch, USA Today, 7/28). However, some international health advocates say the agreement could limit access to medical treatment, including HIV/AIDS-related drugs, for thousands of poor people in Central America (Lobe, Inter Press Service, 7/26). CAFTA eliminates tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods, agricultural services, investment and the imposition of intellectual property rights on medicines. AIDS advocates worry that the agreement also could place limitations on compulsory licensing, which allows a government to authorize itself or a third party to make a generic version of a patented product, including antiretroviral drugs, with payment of reasonable compensation to the patent holder. CAFTA also will require generic drug makers to redo clinical trials to obtain marketing approval and postpone using the trial results for brand-name company drugs for five years, which could create patent-like barriers to market entry of generics, even where no patent exists. However, some analysts have said that a side letter to CAFTA states that the patent-protection provisions in the agreement should not affect government AIDS treatment programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). The Senate approved the pact last month (Andrews, New York Times, 7/28). Bush said in a statement that he will sign CAFTA into law (White House release, 7/28).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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